ALWAYS A REASON TO CELEBRATE

According to the team of editors at nationaltoday.com, they “love celebrating 196 October holidays.”  I’d guess that there are even more than that.  For example, my calendar showed Monday, October 12 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but it didn’t show up on this website.  But, basically, the point is that the things people want to celebrate—or at least observe—approaches the infinite.  The purpose of this blog is to give my readers a two-day sample, for October 16-17, 2020.

Three durations: party down for a day, a week or all month.  I’ve put some of my personal favorites in all CAPS. I recently posted a blog on the value of knowing your characters’ holiday behavior. Would any of your characters be celebrating these October holidays?

One Day

October 16
Many clinics and shelters offer spaying and neutering services on Feral Cat Day.
  • Department Store Day
  • DICTIONARY DAY
  • Get to Know Your Customers Day
    • (January 16, April 16, July 16 and October 15 = the 3rd Thursday of Each Quarter)
  • Global Champagne Day (Third Friday)  Link
  • Global Cat Day Link
  • Mammography Day (Third Friday) Link
    • This is part of the activities for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
  • National Boss’s Day (or Boss’s Day) Link 
    • (Annually celebrated on October 16 unless it falls on a weekend; then it’s the closest workday.)
  • National Feral Cat Day Link
  • World Food Day Link
  • World Spine Day Link
Gentle yoga exercises can improve and maintain spine health.
October 17
Pasta is quite dangerous when eaten with chopsticks.
  • American Frog Day Link (3rd Saturday) 
  • BLACK POETRY DAY
    • Creative writing is always good.
  • Bridge Day Link (3rd Saturday)
  • Sloth International Day Link (3rd Saturday)
  • Sweetest Day (3rd Saturday)
  • International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
  • Mulligan Day
  • National Edge Day Link
  • National Pasta Day Link
  • National Playing Card Collectors Day
  • National Vehophobia (fear of driving) Awareness Day Link
  • O’HENRY PUN-OFF DAY Link  
  • US Oyster Day: 17 and 18
  • WEAR SOMETHING GAUDY DAY 
    • Might as well decorate it!

You can check out any of these holidays on-line to learn more about the rationale and goals for the observance, along with suggestions for activities and the means to get involved locally or nationally.

Week-Long Observances That Include October 16-17, 2020

  • Take Your Medicine Americans Week Link
  • DRINK LOCAL WINE WEEK Link (2nd Full Week)  
    • Self-explanatory – we should celebrate every week!
  • Earth Science Week Link (Always 2nd Full Week) 
  • Emergency Nurses Week Link
  • National Chestnut Week (2nd Full Week)
  • National Food Bank Week Link
  • Teen Read Week Link
    • (Always the week with Columbus Day)
  • Veterinary Technicians Week  (2nd Week) Link
  • World Rainforest Week Link  
  • Bone and Joint Health National Awareness Week Link
  • Choose To Be G.R.E.A.T. Week  Link
    • Gang Resistance Education And Training
  • National School Lunch Week Link (Starts on 2nd Monday)
  • Apple Butter Stirrin’ Week Link (3rd Weekend)
  • Great American Beer Festival Link
  • Food & Drug Interactions and Awareness Week

October 2020 Monthly Holidays

Former shelter dogs, now undisputed rulers of the house.
  • Adopt A Dog or Shelter Dog Month Link
  • AIDS Awareness Month  Link
  • American Pharmacists Month Link
  • Antidepressant Death Awareness Month Link
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Month Link
  • Apple Month Link
  • National Aesthetician Month  Link
  • National Animal Safety and Protection Month Link Link
  • National Arts & Humanities Month Link
  • National Audiology/Protect Your Hearing Month Link
Baby bats recovering from loss of their habitat in wildfire
  • Bat Appreciation Month Link
  • BLACK SPECULATIVE FICTION MONTH Link 
  • BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH 
  • Bullying Prevention Month Link
  • (World) Blindness Awareness Month Link
  • National Bake and Decorate Month Link
Bilingual/ biliterate
  • Caffeine Addiction Recovery Month Link
  • Celebrating The Bilingual Child Month Link
  • CHILDREN’S MAGAZINE MONTH 
  • Christmas Seal Campaign (10/1-12/31)
  • CHURCH LIBRARY MONTH 
    • Get those books into people’s hands!
  • Church Safety and Security Month
  • Class Reunion Month Link
  • Contact Lens Safety Month
  • Co-op Awareness Month
  • Corn Month Link
  • Country Music Month Link
Rather than dissecting a cadaver, this young surgeon in training is using a plastic cadaver to practice her craft.
  • Cut Out Dissection Month Link
  • National Caramel Month  Link
  • National Chili Month
  • National Chiropractic Health Month
  • NATIONAL COOKBOOK MONTH 
  • National Crime Prevention Month
  • National Critical Illness Awareness Month
  • National Cyber Security Awareness Month Link
Depressed (L) and Not Depressed (R) brain scans
  • DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH 
    • I volunteered at a safe place for years.
  • Down Syndrome Awareness Month Link
  • Dyslexia Awareness Month National Dental Hygiene Month
  • National Depression Education & Awareness Month
  • National Disability Employment Awareness Month Link
  • National Dwarfism Awareness Month  Link
Many schools are beginning to incorporate emotional intelligence curricula for young children.
  • Eat Better, Eat Together Month
  • Emotional Intelligence Awareness Month
  • Emotional Wellness Month
  • Employee Ownership Month Link
  • Energy Management is a Family Affair-Improve Your Home Month (10/1-3/31/13)
  • Eye Injury Prevention Month  Link  
    • (Note: There is also one in July.)
  • National Ergonomics Month Link
Do you think it’s feral?
  • Fair Trade Month Link
  • Financial Planning Month Link
  • FERAL HOG MONTH or HOG OUT MONTH  Link 
    • Because of my farm connections.
  • Month of Free Thought
  • National Family Sexuality Education Month – Let’s Talk! Link
  • National Field Trip Month
  • German-American Heritage Month
  • Global Diversity Awareness Month
  • Go Hog Wild – Eat Country Ham 
  • GO SOBER FOR OCTOBER MONTH Link.
    • Alcoholism is sprinkled through my extended family.
  • National “Gain The Inside Advantage” Month
German Heritage Festival in Denver, Colorado
  • Halloween Safety Month
  • Head Start Awareness Month Link
  • Health Literacy Month
  • Home Eye Safety Month
  • I’m Just Me Because Month  Link
  • Italian-American Heritage Month Link
  • International Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC) Awareness Month
  • International Starman Month
  • International Strategic Planning Month
  • International Walk To School Month  Link
  • Intergeneration Month
  • National Kitchen & Bath Month Link
Plaque outside the Stonewall Inn, the site of a major step forward in LGBT rights
  • Learn To Bowl Month  Link
  • LGBT History Month Link
  • Long Term Care Planning Month
  • National Liver Awareness Month Link
  • NATIONAL MEDICAL LIBRARIANS MONTH 
    • One of my daughters is one.
  • National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month  Link
  • National Orthodontic Health Month
  • Organize Your Medical Information Month
  • National Physical Therapy Month
  • National Popcorn Poppin’ Month
  • National Pork Month Link
  • National Protect Your Hearing Month Link
  • National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month Link
  • Photographer Appreciation Month
  • Pizza Month Link Link
  • Polish American Heritage Month
  • Positive Attitude Month
The Majestic Bald Eagle…
  • NATIONAL READING GROUP MONTH 
  • National Retirement Security Month Link
  • National Roller Skating Month Link
  • National RSV Awareness Month Link
  • RAPTOR MONTH Link
    • Because I’m a big avian fan.
  • Raynauds Awareness Month  Link
  • Rett Syndrome Awareness Month Link
  • Right Brainers Rule! Month
Spinach?! No!
  • National Sarcastic Awareness Month
  • National Seafood Month Link
  • National Spina Bifida Awareness Month
  • National Stamp Collecting Month
  • National Substance Abuse Prevention Month Link
  • Sausage Month Link
  • Self-Promotion Month
  • Spinach Lovers Month
  • SQUIRREL AWARENESS MONTH Link
    • (Different Than Squirrel Appreciation Day in January)
    • I have named three squirrels that come regularly to my bird feeder
  • National Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month
  • NATIONAL TOILET TANK REPAIR MONTH Link 
    • Because the name makes me smile.
  • Talk About Medicines Month
  • Teen Services Month
  • Vegetarian Month
Tawawn Lowe is the founder of the Women Walking in Their Own Shoes movement.
  • National Window Covering Safety Month Link
  • National Work and Family Month
  • Wishbones for Pets Month (10/15 – 11/30)
  • Women Walking In Their Own Shoes Month Link
  • Workplace Politics Awareness Month
  • World Menopause Month

Keep in mind that this is only one month, focusing on only two days.  So, clearly, there are a ton of holidays and observances out there. But if your passion isn’t represented, what can you do about it?

Fortunately, the brownielocks.com holiday website can answer that question—and I quote:

INFORMATION ABOUT HOW  HOLIDAYS & OBSERVANCES GET STARTED
and
HOW TO START ONE YOURSELF

By Brownielocks

Through the years, I’ve been asked how these holidays and observances all get started. And, I also get asked how someone can create one and also be listed on my site.  Below is what I know about this topic and also what I require in order to be listed on my “Official” holidays and observances listing.

  1. Holidays or Observances are started by  the President of the United States as a proclamation.
  2. Holidays or Observances are started by an act of the U.S. Congress as resolution # ___.
  3. Holidays and Observances can be started by individual US State legislatures and/or Governors.
  4. Holidays and Observances can be started as cultural traditions or due to some historical event.
    • An example is St. Patrick’s Day (Irish culture) or  Patriot’s Day (September 11).
    • They are also started based on a religious belief. Examples are Christmas, Ramadan and Hannukah.
  5. Observances can also be started based on someone’s date of birth or date of death. 
    • This can either be based on their life or something that they invented or accomplished.  An example is Tolkien Day or  Morse Code Day.
    • NOTE: Not every famous person’s birthday or death date is an observance! 
  6. Observances can also be started by organizations (profit or non-profit).
  7. Observances are also started by commercial companies, and are usually publicized on their websites or on television. 
    • An example was “Potty Dance Day” that we just had in 2011 by Huggies diapers.
  8. Observances are also started by individuals!  This is the one that most of you are interested in learning about.

Let me first of all explain the difference between, “create” and “think of.”  Lots of us can think of lots of fun things to observe daily.  But, that doesn’t make them “official” and valid to be listed on my website.

Any event lists in Chase’s Calendar of Events is considered validated.

If you do not want to submit to Chase’s Calendar of Events, then ….   add it to the website you already have.  This way, I know the origin.  It’s the organization that the page is Linked with at their website.  For example, many organizations have their own website.  Then they also have a page on that site for the observance that they sponsor.  They don’t get a new website domain for their observance when they already have one.  So, if you are a dress boutique and you have a website.  But, you want to start an observance such as “Wear A Mini Skirt Day.”   Just add that page to your current website and send me the Link along with the date etc. and I’ll add it.

BOTTOM LINE: Having your character treasure one of the less popular observances, outside the top 10, can add richness, scenes, settings, and twists entertaining for the reader. And what if your character is motivated to create a special observance—why?

Desserts!

THE UPSIDE OF NOT WHITE AND STRAIGHT

Everyone reading this blog knows that reading is a good thing (I hope), but just how good is it? Let us count the ways.

I’m not saying that getting her college degree first helped Anissa Pierce become the superhero Thunder (one of the first Black lesbian comic book heroes), but I’m fairly sure all that reading didn’t hurt.

1) Activates existing neural pathways in the brain. Complex poetry, in particular, keeps the brain active and elastic. For example, reading 30 pages of a book the night before having an MRI resulted in heightened connectivity in the left temporal cortex, associated with language and intelligence.

2) Maintains and improves brain function. Frequently exercising the brain by reading decreases mental decline in the elderly by 32%. Elderly patients who regularly read or play mentally challenging games are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Memory is improved at every age.

3) Reading is good for mental health. Depressed patients who read—or have stories read aloud to them—report feeling better and more positive about things. Research has indicated that reading can reduce stress by around 68%. Making a habit of reading a physical book before bed can improve sleep. (Reading on e-readers or tablets can actually keep people awake longer.)

4) Reading is highly beneficial for children. A children’s book exposes the child to 50% more words than watching a TV show. Children who are exposed to reading before preschool are more likely to do well at all levels and in all facets of formal education. Children who read are better able to grasp abstract concepts, apply logic, recognize cause and effect, and use good judgment.

5) Identifying with characters in books creates an empathic experience for the reader much like real-life. In fact, people who read do exhibit more empathy in real life.

That last bit is the primary point of this blog. As recent events have made abundantly clear, people born straight with white privilege experience the world differently from “others.” And I’m not the only one to make that point.

Sunili Govinnage

Writing in The Washington Post (4/24/15) Sunili Govinnage wrote, “I read books by only minority authors for a year. It showed me just how white our reading world is.” Finding books by nonwhite authors wasn’t easy.  “Research shows . . . a systemic problem in the literary and publishing world.” (See also my blog from Friday, When You and/or Your Characters Are Not White.) 

Campaigns such as We Need Diverse Books, launched in 2014, are making a difference. Annual lists of POC/BAME lists are published by The Guardian, The Telegraph, Bustle, and others.  But making something available isn’t enough.

I recently heard a sound bite from a protestor who objected to white protestors being called “allies” because everyone should be just people protesting a common problem.  But whatever the label, straight white people who want to work against prejudice (the attitude) and discrimination (the practices) that have unfairly and harmfully impacted minority and LGBTQ people need to understand at a gut level what it’s like to be “other.”  They need empathy

And that’s where reading comes in.  Individuals still must make the effort to diversify—one might say “normalize”—their own experience through conscious reading choices.  Author Gail Carriger credits Mercedes Lackey’s Heralds of Valdemar books with validating her experiences as child and influencing queer representation in her own books. On her blog, Carriger writes, “Her books were/are important because in them queer wasn’t a big deal. It just was.

Sadie Trombetta at Bustle Magazine recommended 23 LGBTQ books with a person of color as the protagonist. She writes, “We need to share, read, and talk about diverse stories now more than ever. There is an entire population of the country continually underrepresented or misrepresented, misunderstood, and straight up discriminated against, and we need to hear their voices.”

As recently noted by Marsha Mercer in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (6/12/20), people are grappling with these issue: 5 of the top 15 books on The New York Times list of nonfiction bestsellers (6/14/20) deal with “white privilege, how to be antiracist, how to talk about race, the new Jim Crow era, and white supremacy.”

More time at home during COVID-19 presents a great opportunity to read some of that nonfiction. Maybe start with Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. This is a book I can personally recommend. James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son is an excellent collection of essays.

A number of websites have more suggestions for expanding your understanding and supporting diversity. “Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian” posted a list recently of 12 (Mostly) Canadian Books about Racism, Anti-Blackness, and Anti-Racism, Plus Places to Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is. Anna Borges at Self.com put together a list of 31 Resources That Will Help You Become a Better White Ally, including suggested reading, ways to support equality, community resources, and helpful organizations. TimeOut.com has compiled suggestions from multiple contributors: These Black Women are Sharing Anti-Racism Reading Lists on Instagram as well as Black-owned bookstores where you can find these books.

And it is tough. During the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, in an exchange with a friend from college—i.e., a friend of decades—I said that he (my friend) had the benefits of white male privilege. He claimed I’d insulted him. Even though I elaborated—said that I was not saying he hadn’t worked hard, hadn’t deserved what he earned, etc., only that he hadn’t had to overcome his gender or his skin color to be successful—he hasn’t spoken to me since.

Although nonfiction is a great source of information, facts, and talking point ammunition, there’s still a huge need for fiction’s contribution to our awareness and empathy. Reading suggestions can be found online in their multitudes. Queer Books for Teens has a list of books with Black main characters. Weird Zeal offers a list that includes books for multiple age ranges. Study Break has a list of books supporting Black and queer authors, as well as links to resources supporting both. On August 2nd of last year, Bitch Media published 7 Books by Queer Black Writers to Read in Honor of James Baldwin’s Birthday. See also book lists in Friday’s blog.

And while we’re at it, let’s go international. The U.S. doesn’t have a lock on racism, discrimination, and oppression. Several times a year, The New Yorker publishes short stories by international authors. Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian posts suggested reading lists of Canadian Black and First nations authors several times a year. These themes can be explored around the world, as shown by the rallies in cities around the world.

Bottom line: in the words of Sunili Govinnage, “People of all cultures and backgrounds have valuable experiences and universal ideas to share, and we all stand to gain when those voices are heard.”